Tag Archives: conspiracy

A Week In Film #151: Builders in

Frankly awful modern day reworking of Bad Day At Black Rock, with Val Kilmer a wounded Iraq war vet who goes to visit a Mexican American comrade-in-arms out in a dusty southwestern town. Less Bad Day… and more Burt Reynolds vehicle Malone, mixed with a last season episode of The A Team.

Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, unnamed American city, serial killing nutter on the loose, David Fincher directing from Andrew Kevin Walker script, superb opening credit sequence.

Spike Lee translocates Richard Price’s novel about bottom level drug dealers in New Jersey to Brooklyn, makes you really feel for some of these working stiffs. Mehki Phifer is excellent as pit supervisor Strike, desperate to get out, Delroy Lindo terrifying as his mentor/boss Rodney. Isaiah Washington, Regina Taylor, Keith David, Harvey Keitel and John Turturro all put in top work too.

Frank Peirson’s gripping staging of the Wansee Conference, with Heydrich (Kenneth Branagh) and Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) coaxing, bullying and chiding their fellow bureaucrats and political soldiers into orchestrating the annihilation of European Jewry. No less powerful a men-round-a-table film than 12 Angry Men.

Didn’t like. Didn’t work. Tried to hard to replicate the book, but never got close to its depth or tone. Tried to fit too much texture in, ended up a mush. Some good performances, but overall a mess of nothing.

Deep Cover
I remember catching a review of this on Barry Norman-era Film 92, but have only just got round to watching it. Laurence Fishburne is an undercover cop who gets close to drug dealer Jeff Goldblum. Things get messy. Bill Duke directs. Some great touches, but not anywhere near perfect – but plenty to raise it above most narcothriller dirges.

A new Stath flick! As a cop who DOES THINGS HIS WAY! With Paddy Considine as the cop with completely contrasting outlook and method with whom he is paired! And Aidan Gillen as the whacko cop-killer! David Morrissey as a sleazy reporter! Zawe Ashton as an ex-undercover finding it hard to go straight! Mark Rylance as the Stath’s mentor, recovering from the recent death of his wife!

Basically, this had all the makings of being a really worthwhile – if not necessarily substantial – crime thriller, but somewhere along the way it falls apart. That’s not to say there is not plenty of talent involved; the mise-en-scène is in general impeccable, the photography beautiful. But the shifts in tone from almost pantomime shenanigans to deeply unsettling violence do the film no favours. Needless things like calling the Met ‘London Police’ irritate too, presumably it’s some sort of pandering to the Stateside audience.

The Bang Bang Club
Patchy, overwrought, casually offensive attempt to turn an interesting memoir about a bunch of South African photographers covering the early/mid-90s Hostel War into a mainstream movie where observers are portrayed as heroes. Ryan Phillippe, Frank Rautenbauch, Taylor Kitsch and Neels Van Jaarsveld are decent enough as the snappers.

Christopher Morahan (Paper Mask) directs a Michael Frayn farce about a punctilious, punctuality-obsessed headmaster (John Cleese) slowly disintegrating as he tries to get to a conference on time only to sabotage himself at every turn. Makes I LOL.

Four Brothers
The set-up seemed inviting – four bad boys return home to Detroit to bury their foster mother after she is killed in a convenience store robbery, only to realise that the cops’ version of wrong-place-wrong-time doesn’t hold water. The trouble is the execution is mostly by-the-numbers and tedious. Having Mark Wahlberg as your leading man doesn’t help. Not John Singleton’s best.

Shutter Island
Last up to the plate in my week of not-great-but-not-bad films is a recent Scorsese. I didn’t know anything about it, as the trailers seemed to be rather opaque, but I noticed recently that it was based on a Dennis Lehane book – him what wrote the source novels for Mystic River andGone Baby Gone – so I figured on giving it a crack.

In a nutshell: A Federal Marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio) with problems of his own investigates an inmate escape at a secure psychiatric hospital off the coast of Massachusetts in Fifties America. All is not what it seems.

Apart from an awkward piece of exposition in a cave halfway through, and the occasional sloppiness (matches to illuminate a dungeon), overall a pretty strong piece, with great mood and tone for the most part, with good performances (Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley), just lacking something.

A Week In Film #029: Catch up & sunburn

The Black Dahlia title screen

The Black Dahlia
Brian De Palma takes on the James Ellroy novel about the notorious 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short. It should be very good, based on that alone, but I found it very turgid.

The most excellent review site Cinema de Merde rates it, but whilst Scott’s persuasive arguments brought me round to love Body Double, here I’m not so sure.

The Chronicles Of Riddick title screen

The Chronicles Of Riddick
Pitch Black was great. This is not. Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Keith David, Colm Feore, Linus Roache and Thandie Newton are amongst the embarrassed here. Some crap about ‘Necromongers’ and and and…

Jersey Girl title screen

Jersey Girl
Non-View Askewniverse Kevin Smith, with Ben Affleck as a widowed PR guy forced back to New Jersey by some choice (but impolitic) remarks made about Will Smith whilst under nappy-changing pressure. Very likeable.

All The King's Men (2006) title screen

All The King’s Men (2006)
Sean Penn as populist Southern Governor who becomes as corrupt as those he sought to replace. Worthy, dull. Jude Law FFS!

Conspiracy title screen

Excellent real-time staging of the 1942 Wannsee Conference which sealed the fate of Europe’s Jews by way of the ‘final solution’. Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci are particularly powerful as Heydrich and Eichmann, though there is not a bad performance from any of the cast.

Atentát title screen

Very economical retelling of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the ‘final solution’ and Nazi overlord of Czechoslovakia, directed in 1964 by Jiří Sequens. Couldn’t find subtitles for this (it’s in Czech and German), but it doesn’t matter, you can follow it just the same.

Below title screen

Supernatural war horror flick set aboard an American sub in WW2, courtesy of Riddick dude David Twohy.

Thematically in the realm of The Keep, Deathwatch and The Bunker, and sadly, like the last two, never quite meeting its potential.

The presence of merchant seaman Dexter Fletcher and nurse Olivia Williams – survivors of an earlier torpedoing – hints at rollicking genre fun like The Land That Time Forgot, but mostly it’s a locked room mystery with ghosts.

1968 Tunnel Rats title screen

1968 Tunnel Rats
Dull film about interesting topic: the tunnel complexes used by the NVA/NLF in the Vietnam War. Oh, it’s directed by Uwe Boll. That would explain it.

Star Trek
I am not and never have been a Trek fan (though I’m partial to a bit of Babylon 5) – this was this LLF’s idea. It was much better than I feared, easy enough for a civilian to follow, with the odd LOL moment or two.